Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on June 9, 2016.

June 24, 2016

10:00 a.m.

Commissioners Dana Petersen Moore and Aaron Greenfield were present for hearings, along with newly named Alternate Commissioner Harvey Jones. In the absence of Chairman Mattriciani, Commissioner Dana Moore filled in as chair for the day. Moore welcomed Jones, who was first appointed to the Board in 2007 and has been either a member or an alternate since then, back to the agency. Moore noted that the City Paper had recently called the BLLC “Baltimore’s most drama-filled commission” and she said that she hoped that the Board would either live up to that reputation gloriously or not at all.

I. Protest of Renewal – Decision Phase (POSTPONED)

The Board held a very brief hearing whose sole purpose was to postpone the decision phase of the Stadium Lounge protest of renewal case to June 23, due to the absence of the Chairman.

II. Regular Items (Hardships, Transfers and Expansions):

Applicants Michael McDevitt & James DiPino, Jr.
Business Name Pull The Trigger, LLC
Trading As Wayward Southern Bar & Kitchen
Address 1117 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add outdoor table service, live entertainment, delivery of alcoholic beverages and off-premise catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Peter Prevas, for his clients, the applicants, clarified that the request before the Board is for live entertainment only. The premises already has outdoor table service of alcohol. Prevas proffered that Mr. DiPino is the manager and 1% owner; Mr. McDevitt is the 99% owner. The premises has been recently rebranded into a Southern barbecue theme. The licensees met with the community association and came to an agreement in a written MOU several months ago, which contained live entertainment. The BMZA approved the live entertainment request in April, subject to the conditions in the MOU. Prevas explained that there is a small area in the front of the business where the owners would like to have acoustic music. There may be an occasional DJ for a private party; there will not be karaoke. There will also not be a dance floor, though the BMZA application does include a request to allow dancing. Commissioner Moore noted that since the Liquor Board’s application did not include a request for dancing, that it would not be allowed without another hearing. Mr. Prevas agreed.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Washington, DC
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Art. 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision There have been no violations under these owners.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Phillip Myers & Joey Bartholomew
Business Name Cookers Music Bistro, LLC
Trading As Cookers Music Bistro
Address 885-89 N. Howard Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for live entertainment
Hearing notes

Mr. Melvin Kodenski proffered the case for his clients, the applicants, both present. The current license, Mr. Hudson, who operated the establishment as “Phaze 10,” has live entertainment already. Mr. Myers ran the establishment for years and then rented it to a tenant for some period of time, who just left. The Mount Vernon Belvedere Association sometimes holds meetings at the establishment and, according to Kodenski, can’t wait for him to take it back over. Mr. Bartholomew is the qualifying Baltimore City resident, which the law requires. The attorney then went through the factors listed in Art. 2B section 10-202(a).

Commissioner Moore asked Mr. Myers why he incorporated his business in Florida. He responded that he was originally looking to open up the restaurant in Florida, so he registered there last year. He’s registered to do business in Maryland. He has run at least two alcohol-licensed establishments in the past and has spent 26 years in the restaurant business. He has never had any violations. He testified that the business is currently open as a carryout, selling Louisiana-style cajun food.

Mr. Bartholomew testified that he doesn’t have any experience running a bar. Mr. Kodenski explained that he is only on the license to serve as the Baltimore City resident, because “the bill didn’t make it into the legislature” to remove that requirement. He said that “they thought they had it in” but “it got caught up in whatever happened there.”

Zoning B-5-1
Neighborhood Mount Vernon
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Perry Hall, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commisssioner Moore noted Mr. Myers’ long experience in the restaurant business without any violations.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The version of the application emailed out by the agency is not completed: Mr. Bartholomew, on the first page, does not check the boxes for two-year City residency or for his voter registration status.

DISCLAIMER Community Law Center Staff Attorney and Booze News blogger Becky Lundberg Witt represented the community association in this case.
Applicant Jennifer Oliver Martin
Business Name Harry Oliver Management, LLC
Trading As Wharf Rat
Address 801-03 S. Ann Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing Request to add outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Former Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman represented the applicant for outdoor tables, Ms. Jennifer Martin. He noted that the BMZA had given permission for outdoor tables in January. The BMZA also changed the designation of the property from a tavern to a restaurant. Ms. Martin testified about her family’s history in Fells Point and ownership of the Wharf Rat. The building has been used as a drinking establishment since probably the late 1700s. She has increased her food service considerably in recent years. She testified that they plan to serve food at low tables, so as to avoid an outdoor party atmosphere where people are standing and holding drinks. They submitted a petition in support of the outdoor tables. On cross-examination (see disclaimer), Martin testified that she does have a small kitchen, which was not shown on the floor plan submitted and that she will have outdoor waitstaff, though she has not hired them yet. Commissioner Jones asked how the outdoor patrons will be monitored to make sure that underage people do not consume alcoholic beverages. Martin said that she will do extensive training of her staff to make sure that people are not wandering outside with drinks or allowing underage patrons to consume alcohol. Commissioner Moore expressed concern about trash left on tables; Ms. Martin replied that she will instruct her staff to address all trash.

Counsel for the Fells Point Residents’ Association (*see disclaimer*) raised an application completeness issue first, which is that Art. 2B section 9-101(c) requires that, if an application is made for a limited liability company, which is the case here, the license shall be applied for and issued to “all authorized persons.” Ms. Martin is the only listed licensee, but there are two authorized persons for this LLC, under the information provided in the application. Commissioner Moore denied the motion; she interpreted this section to only apply to new or transferred licenses, not to outdoor table service applications. [See corporate entity information below: the entity is actually a corporation, not an LLC as listed on the application, but the same rule applies to corporations: all officers must be licensees.]

Mr. David Martz, President of the Fells Point Residents’ Association, testified that, during a special event in September 2015, during which the Wharf Rat was temporarily allowed to serve alcohol and food at outdoor tables, he found the noise from those outdoor tables very disruptive. He said that the Wharf Rat “failed miserably on their trial run” of trying outdoor tables, in his opinion. He took three photographs, which were submitted to the Board. Mr. Martz said that the business does not have sufficient staff to monitor smoking and drinking outside. Martz admitted that there are outdoor tables at other nearby establishments, and those other establishments are creating a negative impact on the community. Mr. Martz submitted video evidence of the noise level during the September event, which the commissioners watched on his smartphone.

Ms. Joanne Mazurek testified that she has lived across the street from the Wharf Rat for 34 years. The business used to have a six day license, but they transferred in a seven day license. She expressed concern about people smoking outside. She also testified that the establishment is a tavern, not a restaurant: primarily, people drink there and do not order food. She said that the other establishments to which Ms. Martin referred on the “same block” were located on a more commercial, less residential street. She said that the outdoor tables would be very intrusive to the families on the street. She testified that the sidewalk was too narrow to hold the tables.

FPRA’s counsel submitted community letters of opposition for the record. Applicant’s counsel objected to the fact that he was not cc’ed on those letters and was seeing them for the first time at the hearing.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, but the entity is a corporation, not an LLC. The corporate name is Harry Oliver Management Company, Inc., which does not match the application which lists the entity as Harry Oliver Management, LLC
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 80%, perhaps 100% if the other officer of the corporation also lives in Baltimore.
Attorney for licensee Former BLLC Chairman Stephan Fogleman
# in support 1
Attorney for community Ms. Becky Lundberg Witt (see disclaimer above)
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Application approved, subject to the restrictions in the BMZA resolution
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision Art. 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Jones stated that there was sufficient walking space for outdoor tables and that there was not enough evidence presented to deny the application. Commissioner Greenfield said that liquor inspectors can work with city inspectors to make sure that neighbors are not disturbed by the outdoor tables. Commissioner Moore told the community members that she understands the potential for the disturbance of outdoor tables. She noted that Mr. Martz testified that there was a limited time during the September event when the noise was disturbing to him.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Erin Roach
Business Name 398, LLC
Trading As Long John’s
Address 398 W. 29th Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski proffered, for his client, that the application is for a transfer of ownership only of an existing establishment. The current owner is elderly and wants to move on. The applicant has previously worked at Crush, Swallow at the Hollow and Zen West for years. She will make no changes to the business. She has met with the Remington association. She has never had any complaints or violations. She will make some minor cosmetic improvements to the building.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Remington
Area demographics 44% White, 35% Black, 3% 2 or more races, 13% Asian, 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,130.79; 14% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

1:00 p.m.

III. Violations:

Licensees Joginder Samra & Joginder Singh
Business Name 2300 W. Baltimore St. LLC
Trading As Club 2300
Address 2300 W. Baltimore St.
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.08(a): Sanitation and Safety – March 10, 2016 – At approximately 4:45 pm BLLC Inspector Darryl Clark conducted an investigation into the establishment based on a 311 complaint received about the establishment. Upon arrival at the location Inspector Clark noticed excessive trash in the back of the establishment. Inspector Clark took photos of the trash. While at the location Inspector Clark verified that the 311 complaint was unfounded. However, Inspector Clark did inform the licensee that he would be issuing a violation to the establishment as this was the second observation of trash at this location in less than a month.

Hearing notes

Liquor Board Inspector Clark testified that he went to the establishment based on an anonymous 311 complaint that the establishment was selling cigarettes to minors. He sat inside for a while to observe the person at the register, who was asking for identification before selling cigarettes and alcohol. Clark testified that inspectors normally do a routine inspection when called to investigate a 311 complaint. When he did, he saw excess trash behind the building in the alley. Though the original 311 complaint about selling cigarettes to minors was unfounded, he informed the licensee that he would be cited for the trash issue. On cross-examination, Clark testified that the trash probably did not originate from the establishment, based on what it looked like, but it was on the establishment’s side of the alley. Commissioner Jones noted that Baltimore City law says that half of a public alley is the property owner’s responsibility. Commissioner Greenfield asked about the prior warning for this establishment; Clark said that he had been there in February and had told the licensee to clean up his side of the alley.

Mr. Kodenski, for his client, pointed out that the trash was not on the “licensed premises,” since there was trash all over the alley. There was nothing to indicate that the licensee put the trash there; it consisted of various household trash items, including diapers, not bottles or food waste. Commissioner Moore responded that a licensee can be responsible for what he did and for what he did not do and that the latter is what the Board is here to talk about. Joginder Singh testified that the trash did not belong to him and that he cleans up his property every day. Commissioner Jones stated that, looking at the photos, from his experience, he believed that the trash had been there for more than a day.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Penrose/Fayette Street Outreach
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 37% households have children under age 18; median household income: $27,751.89
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible. $250
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Commissioner Moore pointed out that the license was only recently transferred and that it is rather soon to have a warning and a violation.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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